Sunday, 2 October 2011

The First Cafe 109 Supper Club

The first Cafe 109 supper club had been planned with military precision. Menus organised, extra glassware, plates etc sourced and most importantly food prepared. Staff on the ball and we were ready to rock at opening time.

The cafe took on a whole new look, soft lighting, candles and wild flowers on the tables. I did have a little panic about arranging the layout of the room so we could fit all 20 ladies in, it was a little tight, but close is intimate! 

Upon arrival guests were treated to a late summer fruit cocktail with marinated raspberries, nibbles of toasted flat bread, olives and dips of baba Ganoush and lemon & coriander hummus.

Ladies all became acquainted, and the sound of laughter and chat soon put me at ease. Service commenced.

A starter of warm spinach and feta fattayer served with sweet potato and rocket salad. Clean plates and yum yum sounds confirmed it was a hit. One of the girls said they would never have put that combination together and didn't think it would be to their liking but were happily surprised, even asking for the recipe.

With starters cleared away, onto the main of thyme and lemon spiced chicken with a lemon and sumac reduction. Side of sautéed courgette, onion and green beans, smoked paprika roasted new potatoes. 

Dessert was an adapted parfait recipe, made with almond, sesame and peanut butter. It was decorated with a sesame caramel brittle and rosewater and chocolate sauce. A huge hit!

To celebrate the middle eastern theme, I found a local belly dancer to give a 10 minute demo. She hold classes locally, it finished off the evening a treat! The guests loved the unexpected entertainment, laughing uncontrollably at some stages of the demo due to extreme movements and teetering wine glasses going flying!

So the first supper club at cafe109 came to a close, what a great success. So many positive comments and names on the list for the next one, even a BookaCook dinner party booking, definitely proof of the pudding!!

Theme for the October supper club is Italian.

To book your place for the next event, please go to Cafe109 Facebook page. 

13th October 2011 7.30 arrival for sit down at 8pm.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Afternoon Tea

This weekend I did one of my most favourite events ever - a classic afternoon tea. I panicked at first when requested for a traditional afternoon tea menu for 80 people, picturing images of me cutting uniform sandwiches for hours on end and placing with exact precision on doilied platters. I need not have worried. Rather unusally I shared the catering with the lovely ladies who booked me to help them.

When we met 2 weeks ago to discuss the venue, staffing and details, they were telling me about their recent challenge to rebuild a very old bungalow into a new living space, Sarah said they had a good size kitchen and all the facilities we would need. They were hoping for good weather so people would be able to make use of the outside patio area. One of the best things about my work is I travel all over the country and have catered functions in some truly amazing and not so special homes! Now pulling up into their driveway I could only describe the house as a Grand Designs project. I was blown away by the size of said bungalow and got incredibly excited when shown into the kitchen - well, I thought it was the kitchen as it was a pretty large room that looked like a kitchen - however, it was the utility room...the kitchen was just next door and had the most Amazing pillar box red double Aga as centre stage. I had died and gone to heaven! But the thing that really impressed me about their beautiful house was the fact it looked right out over the whole of Monmouthshire, and when the patio doors were open, the countryside came in. Magnificent!

So to the catering, out into the dining room went mini bruchetta, tiny sandwiches, chocolate brownies, mini frittatas, filled filo parcels, various quiche, savouries and cakes provided by family friends.Fresh scones topped with good old CORNISH clotted cream, couriered all the way from Redruth, and locally made jam adorned beautiful old fashioned cake stands. The table bowed under the weight, it looked fabulous and I think it was one of the most lovely buffet spreads I have seen for ages - even if I do say so myself!

Wine flowed, along with tea and coffee from bone china cups, a champagne toast to the couple who were celebrating their milestone achievement of 50 years marriage was followed by a stunning fruit cake, that must have been maturing for months! A very touching musical interlude by a local cellist played the song the couple danced to the night they met all those years ago.

Its events like this that make me so love my work, working in amazing surroundings, lovely clients, fabulous feedback but above all making people happy.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

O plums

Just thought I would detail a yummy dessert I have made this week with fresh juicy plums from a local orchard. They actually seemed too nice to cook, but I was desperate to try out a new recipe.

First I made a sweet pastry case flavoured with lemon.

I stoned the plums and halved them and placed them in a baking dish then sprinkled with sugar. Into a medium heat oven they go and cook for about 15 mins until just soft and caramelly. They smell absolutely delicious and at this stage if you don't want to make a tart, just eat them as they are with clotted cream!

Once cooled, I placed them into the pastry case and sprinkled with a little more sugar and orange zest.

I made a quick custard mix with 75 ml of double cream, 4 egg yolks, dash of vanilla essence and 100 g sugar, mixed it well and poured it over the top of the plums.
Back into the oven it goes and cooks at about 160 for approx 30 mins or until the custard looks set and no longer wobbles.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. It is delicious served with more cream!

Lots more plums to use up, so going to be part of my Christmas Chutney, if I can wait that long! The recipe I use for my chutney is amazing with cheese, I am sure it will be featured very soon on the cafe menu.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Supper Club at Cafe 109

I came across the term ‘Supper Club’ one day when researching for a Moroccan themed dinner party and found a website with a review about the ‘underground restaurant’ movement. A lady known as MsMarmite started one of the UK’s very first Supper Clubs and currently is at the forefront of the underground food movement, encouraging others and giving advice to start their own clubs, as well as running her own club called MsMarmite’s Underground Restaurant.  I had no idea that these underground eateries were emerging as a more popular than ever way to dine out in the city, and now across many parts of the UK. Instead of you forking out a fortune to eat out at a well known restaurant, pay through the nose for a good bottle of wine and be none too impressed with the service, a supper club aims to please on all levels. For example, you are asked to bring your own wine or tipple of your choice, you are usually treated to a gastronomic delight made with passion by a non professional chef, served with gusto by an equally enthusiastic host. Nothing is too much bother, the food is unusual and fabulous, the other diners soon become your friends, and it is nearly impossible to get a table for the next weeks sitting. At the end of the evening, you are asked to contribute a minimum fee, and you pay whatever you think it was worth. A Supper Club is a place to socialise and enjoy real food.

Most clubs are hosted in the front room or kitchen of a private residence, there is no formality to the crockery, cutlery and glass wear. It will be decorated with fresh flowers and candle light. Some times live music is played. What is slightly different about my supper club at Café 109, it is not held in my house! (we have just moved to a very small house!) Fortunately I have a great little Café on the high street that lends itself perfectly to host an informal evening of fun and fabulous food. So not entirely in keeping with the traditional supper club, but my Café is small and quaint and I like to make people feel at home!
My first evening will start with a welcome glass of bubbly enjoyed with a selection of Tapas. I will be offering a set 3 course menu, no theme decided as yet, but I love to cook seasonally so will be using whatever is in abundance at the time. I will ask my allotment friends for any glut of produce to make things as fresh & local as possible. I have to like everything I cook, so the menu may very well feature chocolate as some point!
Numbers are limited and with bookings made already, I see this supper club as the first of many more to come. I am so looking forward to it, I can’t wait! For more info, please call me on 01495760222 or look me up on Face book

MsMarmite's Underground Restaurant

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Cafe 109 - 2 weeks in and still breathing!

Ok, 2 weeks in to opening Café 109 and I am half a stone lighter, several bags heavier under the eyes, but happy to realise one of my goals! No one said it was going to be easy, in fact my husband said "are you sure you want to do this" about 100 times and each time I said yes, so I just need to disguise the bags and buy some smaller clothes!

In the short two weeks since getting the keys,  Café 109 has catered a marquee event for 80, has provided a fabulous vegetarian buffet for 70, done a dinner party for 8 and managed to keep hold of old customers and gain new ones! The café has transformed the old tired menu, we have given it a new coat of paint, planted new flower pots, had a deep clean and have managed to eliminate the smell of old fat with beautiful fresh flowers. 

I have a fantastic right hand man/girl who is not only great in the shop but a natural with the 3 year old, so both are taken care of in full confidence. In fact my 2 older boys love the fact they now have a place to come for tea, Saturday breaskfast and earn some pocket money! 

 I am avidly planning the future of Café 109, loads of ideas to encourage family dining and give an overhaul to fresh food delivery in the area. Supper nights planned as well as installing WIFI to encourage business meetings in the clean bright coffee shop.

Mondays are activity days for mums and toddlers, offering cake and cookies and a place to meet and play safely and sociably.

Café 109 is also an excellent venue to host my Forever Business presentations, it is amazing how I have already met 5 people who want to improve their life and boost their income by taking a look at Forever.

So all in all, a fabulous hectic couple of weeks, I have enjoyed every minute and so pleased I took the plunge. Anyone recommend a good concealer!!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

New Business Premises

Well, long time no blog. Been a very busy few months for BookaCook. Moved house, catered numerous events and parties and bought a cafe to house the BookaCook business.
The purchase of a new cafe happened rather unexpectedly, and rather quickly. I had seen a For Sale sign in the window of the local cafe and thought I should take a look. It seemed perfect for what I needed. Plenty of seating space, functional kitchen, up to date equipment and a fabulous coffee machine. The lady who was selling was closing the next day, I said I wanted it and the deal was done! I had the keys 2 days later and opened for business. Some times when you think too long about an opportunity, you can talk yourself into the reasons why you shouldn't be going for it. With only 2 days to exchange the lease agreement, I only had positive thoughts and looked at how much this could change the way I run my business for the better.

So 1 week in, the cafe is busy, new trade and some old regulars too. The place has been blitzed and little by little change is taking place. Cafe 109 is the place to come for fresh home cooked lunches, delicious cakes and lovely coffee. The cafe is a great meeting place in the village and I hope to encourage old and young customers alike, I have a box of toys in the corner to keep the children happy and have a great healthy children's menu. We also serve free smiles!

BookaCook is set up now to take your party bookings, either in the comfort of your own home or make use of the facilities in the cafe. Its bright, clean and welcoming and can be decorated to create a lovely venue. It seats 20 comfortably.

The Supper club is on its way - a monthly evening 3 course dinner to be held at Cafe 109. BYO - What fun!

Please come along and say Hi, have a cupcake, sit back, relax and enjoy!

            CAFE 109....... THE HIGHWAY.......... NEW INN.......... PONTYPOOL........... NP40PJ

Monday, 16 May 2011


My meringues are legendary in our house! I also suggest them to my clients in the summer months for a beautiful and elegant dessert. My love for these little light whipped sugar clouds came from my Dad. He was the master of mini meringues, taking great pride in perfectly icing the soft peaks onto the baking trays and 'cooking' them in the hot cupboard over night. They always came out brilliant white, and his favourite filling would be local cornish clotted cream. If we were really lucky, me may be allowed to have one after the guests had been served, and I would sprinkle in a very 80's way chocolate vermicelli all over mine!

I was asked to make some small ones over the weekend for my friend who was hosting an afternoon tea party for her father's 80th birthday. Here is the method I use for perfect results every time.

4 large egg whites (free range)
8oz caster sugar
1 tsp corn flour

Preheat oven to 110

Whisk the egg whites in a large clean and DRY bowl until stiff peaks form. Don't over whip so it separates.
I use my Kenwood Chef to do the hard work for me. 
I add a table spoon of caster sugar at a time, whisking well in between each spoon. I add the cornflour half way and incorporate.
Continue to whisk until all the sugar is used. You should have a huge bowl of white silky soft peaks. At this stage now you can either make a Pavlova by placing all the mixture onto a large  lined baking tray and spread it into an 10 inch circle, making peaks as you do so.
I like to fill a piping bag with a star shape nozzle and pipe onto a lined baking sheet, making little shapes that resemble white walnut whips. I allow 2 per person.
Place into the oven for about 1 hour, turn off the oven and leave until cold. Remove the meringues and then sandwich together with whipped cream, clotted cream, chocolate ganache or whatever you fancy. I also think lemon curd stirred into whipped cream is delicious. In the summer months, always serve with fresh strawberries!
For a party centre piece I pile them onto a large white round platter, sprinkle with either fresh rose petals or edible sparkle dust and watch them disappear far quicker than the time it took to make them!

The afternoon tea party spread was beautiful, scones with jam and cream,
dainty little triangle sandwiches and a  selection of vintage tea cups, saucers and plates. 

The centre piece was an amazing cake appropriately designed for the garden loving birthday boy & girls (twins). My friend Rachel made the cake, she is mostly self taught and could be up there with Ace of Cakes, it was delicious as well as stunning!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Easiest cake in the world!

Just finished a cookery workshop with a fab group of 5 & 6 year olds in Cheeky Monkeys, Cwmbran. The children loved it - had a great old messy time! The best bit for them was making their own little muffins. I have to share the recipe with you as it is the most simple thing ever. If you don't have a muffin tray, pour the mixture into a lined loaf /cake tin instead.
1 fruity yogurt (  I used Little Stars Strawberry flavour)
1/2 yogurt pot of castor sugar
3 x pots of SR flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 pot of oil
1 x egg
choc chips or dried fruit

Pre heat oven to 170

Empty the contents of the yogurt into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Spoon into muffin cases  and cook in a muffin tray for about 20 mins. If you are making a cake instead, cook for about 45 mins - 1 hr or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Quick Leftovers Lunch

I am officially on a diet. Only 6 weeks to go until my little sister ties the knot and want to look half decent as one of the bridesmaids! So out with the tea and biscuits, bread and butter and late night chocolate desserts and in with the boring high protein low fat diet we all dread! However, the short time I have been consciously watching my diet, I have actually eaten amazingly well, have not felt like my throat has been cut and surprisingly have managed to abstain from chocolate for over 5 days – and with great results! 

The secret I have found this time round is to fill up on foods that are good for you such as greens in any format be it salad, beans, courgettes, peas, broccoli and cook it is a creative way, serving a lovely tasty portion of protein on the side. I have a new found love of lettuce – not the old boring cold salad lettuce, no,braised iceberg in lemon juice and garlic, with watercress and rocket mixed through.
I have always loved spinach, but I have taken it to new heights with the addition of capers and coriander & lemon zest during the wilting process – no need for butter or oil.  Lemons have become my new best friend!

My favourite dish so far on my ‘green’ diet has to be what I created from the leftovers in the fridge today. Having just finished a punishing gym session, I was in need of some carbs. Never one to waste food (I keep all leftovers!)I opened the fridge and found some cooked pasta, chicken breast left from a Roast and a few cooked runner beans I had made into a salad with Canelloni beans and rocket pesto, all leftovers from the night before. I also found a bulb of fennel, one of my favourite all timers and cut off a few very thin slices.

So, into the pan went the fennel, along with a little veg stock, squeeze of garlic puree and some little cherry tomatoes. This bubbled for about 2 minutes, I then added the pasta, chicken and squeezed the half lemon that was ever so sadly perched in the fridge door, then threw the entire squeezed remains into the pan. With a dash of salt and lots of fresh black pepper, the meal was certainly looking good. With one last addition of the green bean salad, the dish took on a whole new dimension, it looked pretty and it tasted Gorgeous! In little under 10 minutes I had made a very delicious balanced and healthy lunch, and it hadn’t cost a penny as it was almost all leftovers! I sat down to eat and enjoyed every mouthful, shame I had no one to share it with (not!).

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ladies Cooking Class

property image
Last week I held a cookery demo at my place. I have done many cookery demo's, classes and workshops over the years, all in various locations including blustery open fields, churches and schools. My favourite event by far though is to hold evening classes in my own barn kitchen. I have a lovely big kitchen with a large granite island, large enough to seat 10 comfortably. My good old faithful Rangemaster is a dream to work on, with a double oven and 6 hob gas burners.

The brief for the evening was simple seasonal suppers with a fish theme. The lovely group of ladies attending were part of Abergavenny Ladies Business Group, so the evening was both for networking and socialising. 

Upon arrival, each guest was given a glass of wine and canapes. I had decided to go for Stuffed Mushrooms with Herbs, Garlic and Mozzarella and Figs on Crostini topped with Warm Brie. As the class didn't start until 7.30pm, these all went down a storm - I knew I had to get some more food on the table quick to keep these hungry ladies happy!

I had to plan the dishes well as amongst the group we had a vegetarian (non fish eating) so all dishes had to be adapted so everyone was happy. 

I started with a brief introduction of me to the guests. The lady sat to the right of my workstation then announced that she too had over 30 years experience in the kitchen (that's 15 yrs more than me!) and had worked as a cookery teacher and demo chef - well, the challenge was on - not too much pressure then! Cooking then commenced, starting the Fish parcels, Salmon cooked with Fennel & Lemon, Fresh Green Bean & Cannelloni Bean salad with a Rocket pesto, Marinated Mackerel with Horseradish Potato Salad plus a few others. Ready Steady Cook comes to mind!!!

Each dish was cooked and delivered to the table for all my guests to tuck into. In a little over an hour I had cooked 6 main supper dishes and a dessert. (rhubarb compote with Cinnamon French Toasts mmmmmm!) I even surprise myself sometimes at what I can achieve in such a short space of time!

My guests had a wonderful time. A unique experience for many of them. A chance to dine out, learning how to cook at the same time - using fresh delicious seasonal ingredients. In fact so impressed were some of the ladies, the recipes have already been recreated at home in their own kitchens less than a week later!

My right hand guest with many more years experience than me was Super Impressed, so much so she wants me to cater a large family bash! The night was a great success, full tummies, inspired minds and 8 happy customers leaving my home all spreading the word of a their new dining out experience. And of course, a success for me doing my favourite thing in my favourite place - I love my job!

This is the recipe of the simple yet utterly delicious. Can be made using chicken or fish or just with vegetables. Once you have had this, regular curries won't come close!

Asian Prawns in Coconut & Squash Broth

  • Bag of raw king Prawns
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 tsp Thai red curry paste or homemade paste
  • medium butternut squash (about 500g/1lb 2oz) peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • ½ x 400ml can reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 140g green beans or broccoli stems
  • coriander leaves, chopped, and leaves to garnish
Heat the oil in a wok or pan. Fry the onion for 5 mins until softened. Stir in the red curry paste, then add the squash, coconut milk and stock. Simmer for 10-15 mins until the squash is tender. After 10 mins cooking, tip in the green beans/broccoli and prawns and cook until prawns are pink.
Sprinkle with the coriander leaves and serve the curry in bowls with noodles or rice.

Curry paste recipe :
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
1 stick lemon grass
1 small red chilli deseeded
1 red pepper deseeded and chopped
Handful of chopped fresh coriander
Juice and zest of half a lime

Take all the ingredients and blitz in a small food processor until it forms a smooth paste. Store in an icecube tray or small plastic pots and freeze. Use from frozen.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Sausage Supper

Just a quick one to let you in on a yummy quick supper for the children, straight from the store cupboard, only takes 25 minutes

Take one pack of real Butchers Sausages - I used Edwards of Conwy, reduced fat Classic Leek recipe
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 small onion diced
pinch of dried basil and oregano
Squeeze of tomato puree
2 cups of Pasta (fresh or dried)
fresh veg such as courgette, peas, broccoli just cooked

Pre heat the oven to180, place the sausages on a baking tray and cook for about 20 mins until nicely coloured and cooked through.
Fry off the onion, add the herbs fresh or dry, pour in the tomatoes and the puree. Stir well and simmer for until the sausages are cooked.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just aldente
Chop up the sausages into chunks, add them to the tomato sauce, drain the pasta and add to the sauce with the veg. Stir through and make sure it is all piping hot.
Serve sprinkled with cheese with a side of Garlic bread

Left overs will go in Rohans packed lunch tomorrow, he loves cold pasta salads!

Birthday on a Budget

We have recently celebrated our son's 10th birthday. Each year it seems to get more of a challenge to find a theme or just do something different to the old soft play, football and cinema parties.
So we decided to let 8 boys come over to ours and play some thing called 'Nerf' guns, which involved running wild with play guns for an hour or so. Luckily for us, we have a large garden, so they were dutifully kicked out side and left alone! Camps made out of wheelbarrows and growbags, wheelie bins and old cots soon pitched up around the house. They were loving it - and so were we, happy that it wasn't costing an absolute fortune to throw a birthday bash. It was a hard job to get them inside for party food and cake. As the son of a fabulous (even if I do say so myself!) home cook, I was expecting Alex to request full on home baked goodies, but I am rather ashamed to admit that his favourite food is pizza, and not my home made variety, one of the other shop bought ones. I was however able to put my mark of domesticity into the food by offering home made spiced wedges, carrot sticks and dips! Dessert was fruit kebabs and chocolate sauce. It all went down a treat with the boys, and then the cake...
Alex is a boarder, so what better cake to have than that of a skateboard? At his request obviously! I am pretty good, but not as good as my friend down the road who makes and decorates the most fantastic cakes ever. So I called on her to provide this - which once again was a huge hit with the boys.

Alex said to me after his friends left it was the best party he had ever had - and I had to smile. I thought back on all the other parties he had had and been to over the years, as well as the parties his brother has had. The cost and preparation involved, the time and the effort, when really all boys want to do is run around with pretend weapons and play armies! I have been missing this trick for years!

So my top tips for throwing a boys Budget Outdoors Party are as follows:

  • Chose a location you know is large enough for them to run around in and hide in places, such as the park or the local woods.
  • Limit numbers unless you have the help of a few adults
  • Make sure you tell the parents to dress the boys in old outdoor clothes & shoes
  • Theme the party to Cops and Robbers, Armies, Sports games, camp building etc and tell the parents what you want the boys to bring with them. (I asked each child to bring his nerf gun and some bullets!)
  • Make sure you name the safe base before you start
  • Brief all the guests before the game commences so they know game rules (we made them up)
  • Have lots of juice/water ready, this is thirsty work!
  • Prepare your food ahead, but keep it simple. Do not have too many things that need to be cooked at the same time. Or just order in!
  • Be prepared for splinters or bullet wounds (bruises!) and treat as necessary with minimum amount of fuss!
  • Join in and play with them, they think its the best thing ever to aim and fire at an adult!
  • And lastly Have Fun!!!!

In case of rain or bad weather, have the back up of the village hall, or in our case, our house and get down to a dancing competition and musical statues - kids are never too old for that - neither are us adults!

For fabulous cakes, get in touch for Rachel's number - she is Awesome.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

I can wear all the hats!

Back in November, a little downbeat and before I had decided to re launch BookaCook, I had an e-mail from a lady requesting catering help for her husband's 40th Birthday party. At the time, I was not so sure I really wanted to get into all the shopping/cooking/pressure of dinner party catering again, but decided to say yes anyway, it may just help me get on my feet again. I planned a great menu with them, including two of her Aussie husband's favourite dishes,Slow Cooked Lamb with a Sticky Red Wine Reduction and Pavlova and filed the booking away.
So last night came the big event, a dinner party for 14, preceded by a cooking class with 3 of the ladies. A busy week for me leading up to it, juggling the children, school runs, after school clubs and selling a house, shopping and preparing plus other meetings - I felt was this really something I could fit into my already hectic life?! Was my catering business a step too far for me right now? Was I mad to think I could wear all the hats?Could I do this again without having a breakdown!

Feeling a little nervous (I always have huge adrenalin before events) I arrived at the party venue. I got organised in their kitchen - which I have to say was the most orderly tidy kitchen I have seen in a long while! I thought I was good, man, this lady could give classes on how to stack a cupboard! I quickly slipped back into my old style, relaxing in the company of 3 fabulous ladies, who had all bought matching pinnies for the cookery class, they looked fab! We got to work on the canapes for the evening, a pure pleasure for them, as they knew they would be eating their works of art later. They loved it, learned new tricks, and so did I.
Cooking lesson over, I got down to the real hot stuff and put out a fantastic 3 course dinner, all on time with no hitches. I have to admit I was helped by my great friend Steph, who was my amazing waitress, dishwasher and fab all rounder.
 In between the main course and dessert, I took a step back from the cooker, I had a quick moment to myself and thought - Yes Emma, you really are doing the right thing here, cooking is my passion, I love it and had forgotten the buzz I get when doing it professionally. Running a home and business is a balancing act, but with excellent support from my husband, I know I am doing the right thing! I consider myself lucky, how many people really love what they do and earn a living from it?
So I am really very pleased that Laura found me last November, otherwise I may never have given this another go. More importantly, Laura is incredibly pleased she found me - along with all her guests, who all gave us a round of applause before we left - a triumph! And the Pavlova - Well, it lived up to the Aussie's expectations, just as well I made an extra large one!

What a Beauty! 
Strawberry, Raspberry & Pomegranite Pavlova
      Gone in 60 seconds!

So today, although tired, I have been planning the business, I am raring to go and loving being back in the driving seat once again. I have bookings coming in and I am not afraid to take them! Pass me the washing up hat please, my day is not over yet!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Food of Love

So the Valentines Banquet in a Box was a success! Some very happy customers, all of whom were surprising their partners with the new Dining in Experience! My favourite dish from the recipe collection has to be the Tarragon Chicken in White Wine and Cream, but the prettiest was the white chocolate truffles with heart shaped butter biscuits                                                        

We don't need Valentines to be romantic though, I have had requests to do more of these boxes, so keep an eye out on the website. Here is my current favourite recipe:
Tarragon Chicken 
2 chicken breast lightly coated in Olive Oil
1-2 shallots
1 clove garlic
glass of white wine
1/2 pt Chicken stock
150ml cream
Fresh Tarragon
75g butter
Heat  griddle pan until very hot, sear two chicken breast on both sides for about 3 mins each side. Flip back over and sear again to make a criss cross design. Take off heat and place chicken on a plate.
In another pan, melt a knob of butter, throw in a finely chopped  shallot and whole clove of garlic (peeled but not chopped). Sweat until soft. Add a glass of dry white wine and reduce until just a drizzle remains. Add half a pint of chicken stock, a few stems of fresh tarragon, season and simmer until reduced by half. 
Add 150ml of cream and heat through, don't boil. Now place the chicken breasts into the sauce and finish cooking with a lid on. This should take another 10 mins, turning often so they remain coated in the sauce. Just before serving, I add a small knob of butter to make it that bit richer and thicker.
To serve
Remove Tarragon and Garlic clove. Place chicken on a board, slice on the diagonal into 3. Place chicken onto the plate, drizzle sauce over and sprinkle with chopped Tarragon. I served this with Roasted New Potatoes and Green Bean bundles, but I love to eat this dish with Asparagus spears, lightly cooked in Salted water. Asparagus is great to use an an implement to scoop up the extra sauce!

This box has Tarragon Chicken, Pink Cava, Caramelized red onion & Feta Tarts (heart shaped of course!), Green Bean bundles, Chocolate Pots & Fresh Strawberries. for latest offers


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Latest News from BookaCook



​Welcome to my first Newsletter, please read on….

What a fantastic start to 2011 for BookaCook, with so much happening to the business. At the end of 2010, having taken things slowly since the birth of no3 baby, who is now a toddler, I felt it was time to step up a notch. So I am underway with the development of a new website, up and running on social networks such as Twitter and have just launched a new arm to the business call Little Chef Cooking Parties. Wow, I am impressed as it is only the beginning of February and things are busy busy! Plus I have 3 boys and husband to look after!

Valentines Banquet in a Box
Staying in is the new going out! Treat your loved one to a fantastic 3 course meal, topped off with chocolate truffles and a bottle of Pink Fizz. I prepare a delicious Valentines treat and deliver it to your door, presented in a gift wrapped box with full heating instructions. What could be easier or better than that! No need for taxi, babysitters or cooking. Simple! Delivery slots to Cardiff area still available, bookings must be received by 6pm on Sat 12th for drop off on Monday 14th. Please see website for menus.

Little Chef Cooking Parties
Do you have children who love to cook? How about throwing a cooking party for their next birthday? We come to the house or venue and help them create some culinary masterpieces for them to eat as their birthday tea or take home. We provide party bags, invites, all equipment and a guaranteed fun time. The best bit is we clear away, allowing a fab party with NO MESS! Prices from £10.00 pp. Please see for more details.

Cookery Demos at AppleTree Barn, Penperlleni (BookaCook HQ)
I will be holding a Cookery demo night on Thursday 10th March. The theme will be Seasonal Menus – looking at easy, quick and delicious suppers. Guests are welcomed with a tea/coffee/ cold drink and canapés, spend an hour watching a fun and energetic cookery demo, then eat all of the food that has been prepared, accompanied by a glass of wine. A great alternative to sitting in a restaurant – at least you get to see how your dinner is made! Group bookings welcome. £30.00pp Spaces are limited to 10 people.

BookaCook Dinner Parties and Events
All bookings made for the BookaCook service throughout February will receive a discount of 10%. I have catered all types of events from intimate dinner parties to weddings for over 100, as well as Birthday buffets and holiday chef (for HRH Prince Edward). Whatever you have planned this year, please call and I will do my best to help you get the best service around. 
Please follow me on Twitter @bookacooknow

Thank you all for reading my news and hope to see you soon. Apparently, William and Kate are honeymooning on the Scillies in May – I am sure they would love my Lobster Bisque!! Come on Edward, have you lost my number? Your nephew is waiting to book me!

Eat Healthy, be Happy!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Being Social

So when I decided to re boot my BookaCook business just before Christmas, I did not have a great marketing strategy, just knew that the internet needed to play a part in growing the business. I did not have a clue about social media networking, so am very pleased with myself for recently stepping up and actively tweeting. I have increased followers to over 100 in the first week, and am amazed at the power of this tool we all have free use of. I do have to confess though, it is not all my own doing! I was fortunate enough to meet a fabulous mum at my local  Welsh business mums networking group (that I founded in Oct2010) who makes this whole Twitter Facebook thing look as simple as drinking a cup of tea. Iona and I struck a deal and she is currently helping me promote my business to the world, I am helping her in the catering department! And what an amazing week it has been, I may be on holiday, but business hasn't stopped. Party bookings for both BookaCook and Little Chef cooking parties, collaborations with 3 local businesses and a photoshoot to attend when I get back. The power of social media has amazed me, if this is what can be achieved in a week, imagine 6 weeks time! If anyone wants the number of a fab on the ball social media whizz, Tweet Iona @revealmedia.

Just thought I should mention that since I have been home staying with my mum on hols, we have had 3 very nostalgic puddings - all of which remind me of when I was knee high.Sitting at the table this week, we have all laughed so much thinking back to the old days! Funny how food can evoke so many memories. So I urge you to try  one of these - Chocolate Bread and butter pudding, Rice Pudding (with plenty of nutmeg and a thick skin!) and Whoppie (dessert speciality of my late Grandma Beach) and see what happens! I guarantee laughter and a full tummy!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Scilly Times

I am on the Isles of Scilly right now, using a weeks break to write recipes, websites and formulating party ideas. I only have the one child with me, so have a little more time to myself to get this business going! Husband very kindly offered to stay at home and tend on with the other 2, how could I resist a week on the gorgeous Isles of Scilly! Been running, walking, and working, such a great place to get your head together! Staying at my old family home with my mum, bit of a busman's holiday though, last night was asked to cook something simple and quick for 4 with what we had in the fridge, cupboards and veg box, so this is what was created

Roast Chicken with White Wine & Tomato Sauce with winter Roast Veg

Quarter your chicken and place in a roasting dish, season well and roast on high for 30 mins.

Prepare your root veg, I used Parsnips, carrots, onions, new potatoes, squash and garlic (leave garlic in skins). Roughly cut them and place in another roasting dish, splash with olive oil, season, sprinkle with dried basil, place in hot oven for 1 hr, stirring now and again.
After 30 mins, remove chicken from oven, drain excess oil away and add a tsp of garlic paste and tomato puree. Pour a spolsh of white wine, stir and place on the hob for 5 mins to reduce. Add can of chopped tomatoes and any dried of fresh herbs you have , I used  oregano. Put back in the oven for another 30 mins.

Both chicken and veg should be ready at the same time. Bring both dishes to the table, serve with crusty bread. Delicious simple quick supper idea - plates were licked clean!

If you have Chickpeas, olives or butter beans in the cupboard, try experimenting with these instead of using the vegis, becomes more of a one pot meal, but equally delicious.

Scilly is beautiful this time of year, the winter colours of the early daffodils with the dramatic backdrop of the sea and coast line.                                          

This is one of my favourite views, looking out over Round Island from Bar.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

New Year, New Business

Well, been away from this for ages, New Years resolution is to be more Consistent! Little and often. So I am talking about the New business I am launching as part of my catering empire here in Monmouthshire.
Little Chef Cooking Parties is soon to be offered to South Wales. There is a distinct lack of cookery classes and workshop venues for both adults and children in Wales. Monmouthsire in particular is a foodie location, so I am doing some thing about it!
My children love to cook with me in the kitchen,  I love to help children through cookery workshops in school and holiday clubs to learn about food, get them excited about new smells, textures and taste, but above all, make cooking fun. So Little Chef Cooking Parties is on its way. Offering parents the chance to have their own children entertained in the kitchen, a chance to get messy, creative and eat the fruits of their labour. Parties are held anywhere there is access to an oven, sink and work space. Fantastic value for money, great entertainment and immense satisfaction for the little ones.
New website coming soon. I am so excited I could burst. What a fantastic start to 2011!